“…Architect, everything you do it works…”

This is so far the best compliment I have received, and the only one that really matters to me, especially because it comes from a person who I really esteem.

Nowadays people talk about “Strategic Design” as it was a separate discipline, but design is strategic in itself. “Design” is the English equivalent of the term “progetto”, which Latin etymology is “pro jacere”, to throw ahead, thus to foresee, which is the essence of every strategic process. Strategy is a word that inevitably evokes Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”, one of the most praised and misunderstood books in literature history. What does it tell? That the only thing that really matters is to win, and the greatest victory is not clamorous because it is bloodless and obtained with minimum effort. The secret, in the end very simple, is to know your strengths and weaknesses, those of the enemy, the context and the timing: in other words, you must analyse in-depth all factors involved and make good use of this knowledge.



Who’s the enemy in the design industry? Sometimes even one’s client (!), who must become an ally, and more generally speaking all market difficulties, which have to be overcome or, even better, transformed into strengths.

But the worst enemy is a huge ego, which makes people blind and fool.

Simply, to win means to make products that sell, and today it is inconceivable to realise products and then wait to see if they sell. Starting from the embryonic phase of a product’s project, designers must be aware of who will buy it… and who will sell it! Many good projects fail because they are realised by the wrong firm.

A product’s project must be conceived together with its communication strategy: if it does not communicate it simply does not exist.

I do not believe in luck: if a product does not sell, this is due to some mistakes.



Design strategy is successful only when it goes whole hog, with no hesitation, with clear mind and confidence, working on all fronts but with one vision. Design is visionary, but only in the meaning that it has a broad and overhead view. 


© 2020 Massimo Mussapi